Mothering Sunday and Marge Simpson

(Written the year Marge Simpson was voted ‘Mother of the Year’)

The one thing we all have in common, whether we are male or female, young or old, is that a mother gave us the precious gift of life, and for that we give thanks to God especially today.

For a whole number of reasons though, a lot of people feel that Mothering Sunday is a rather difficult day for them.

So let us in our worship today, remember all those who may happen to feel sad, lonely or bereaved on a such a special day as this.

Because I've often heard men complain and ask, when the church is going to celebrate Fathering Sunday, I want to include the men too in my address today, and consider what all of us can learn today as Christians from the example before us.

Who can we look to as the perfect mother?

According to the newspapers this week there's been a recent survey held by the Mothers' Union, (so if you don't agree, see them after church, I wasn't at their last meeting!) but it seems that most youngsters want their mums to be like the following person...

see if you can recognise who it is...

It seems that most children idolise her.

She has been given higher ratings than Cherie Blair, who as you know is very good at balancing career and home, whilst still remaining sane.

This person is open and frank with her 3 children; she is a provider, she is very human and makes mistakes.

She has the kind of maternal qualities that will help a child through life.

She gives sound advice, such as telling her children, ‘Listen to your heart, and not the voices in your head!

She is tall, with big eyes, some would say she is beautiful, she stands at eight feet, blue hair included, which incidentally is never out of place, and she dresses well.

The answer is …..(vis aid) Marge Simpson. I don’t think any of us will ever grow to be as perfect or as admired as she is.

But you see she's not REAL, so I can't base my sermon on her this morning.

The ONE MOTHER we all have in common as Christians, the one we look to as our perfect role model is the one shown on this visual aid, (point to stained glass window) …Mary, patron saint of this church, and it is to her I look today for inspiration.

Not only does she lead the way for mothers to follow, she has much to say to us as Christians as we seek to serve God better in our world, even if we don’t happen to be mothers ourselves.

In the bible we are told that the prophet Simeon announced to Mary, that her son was destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, that he would be a sign that would be opposed, so that the inner thoughts of many would be laid bare- and then he finished his pronouncement with these words to Mary…and a sword will pierce your own soul too!

I’m trying to imagine how I would have felt, if an elderly man had approached me on Northumberland Street, looked into my child’s pram and wailed about how my child would be a troublemaker to many people in the nation one day, and break my heart in the process and split it in two.

It would practically be the same as bringing down a curse on him!

I wouldn’t have been very pleased I’ll tell you….yet it seems that this follows on from, and is part of Simeon’s blessing upon the child!

I wonder how Mary felt about his statement!

Today in our reading from the gospel, Simeon’s prophecy is fulfilled.

I wonder if Simeon’s words echoed through time into her ears?

For it says,’ Meanwhile, standing at the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mothers’ sister, Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.

Here she is, as she has been throughout Jesus life…following the progress of her son, looking on in awe, supporting him all the way, even to death as his blood began to flow.

She is not flinging her arms around, or beating at the soldiers with her fists, or collapsing at this point…she is standing, how she is standing I don’t know.

She seems to have a dignity and a strength, that could only have come because she knew her son had a destiny which was in his Heavenly Father’s hands.

Nevertheless he is her firstborn child, and surely you can’t easily witness the death of your child as near as she was, completely unable to prevent it, and not feel it keenly in your soul.

Yet she stands near the cross, with her women friends, far closer than his disciples dare, apart from John that is.

She is there, constant and true and faithful…a servant waiting in the wings.

Is this not what is asked of us too?

When Mary first heard through an angel, that she was to bear God’s Son, there was a willingness to look to God and listen, hear and obey, whispering her ‘yes’ consenting to God’s will, at the most important time of her young maiden’s life, during her betrothal.

She was submissive and willing to let her own dreams and plans die, even to the point of surrendering her own happiness and jeopardize her future marriage. She was obedient and totally focussed upon God’s will for her life, fully trusting God to bring about his plans to fruition.

Are we at that point of surrender?

How much of life’s pleasures are we prepared to give up to serve God?

Mary is described as someone who soaked up every experience and treasured each situation, who gathered up every word from shepherd, king, prophet alike, from whoever was a key piece in the jigsaw of God’s plan.

She stored up and treasured everything in her heart.

How else would the gospel writers have been able to write down the history of Jesus. She gave witness to what she heard and saw. She was a key witness to what God was doing in her life, and in the life of her son.

Which begs the question….

Who was the last person we shared our faith or experience in God with?

Mary released her son into ministry, set him free, she didn’t smother him, she mothered him; in fact her love for him and her belief in him, probably gave him confidence he needed to face the world.

Who was the last person we encouraged?

Are we at this present moment trying to exercise control or manipulate someone we love who is of an age to make their own decisions?

Not only was Mary present as Jesus began to teach, not only did she tell others to listen and obey him, as she did when he changed water into wine, with very little interfering, boasting, fussing or nagging might I add, but she was also there among the 120 people who waited and prayed to receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

And when it fell upon them all, she was not someone who stood at a distance and merely looked on at the weird and wonderful manifestations of the Holy Spirit as those disciples and followers went running into the streets speaking strange languages and telling of the wonders of God, she would have been one of them! She was there at the very beginning of the church as it began to grow. She would have shared its vision, been part of its growth and ministry.

How involved is the Holy Spirit in our lives?

Is it any wonder that a mother such as this, was in the last Will and Testament of Jesus as he died on the cross. She had given such love to her son, now she was receiving such an outpouring of his love for her from the cross, as she was lovingly handed over and placed into the hands of John?

Jesus care and prayers for his mother reminds us of Proverbs 31, when the writer spoke of the wife/mother of noble character. He finishes with these words…. ‘her children rise up and call her blessed… Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gates.’

As mothers AND FATHERS we will reap what we sow… we must always be there for our children.

As Christians too we will reap what we sow.

And if the seeds we sow, happen to be seeds of love… we can’t go far wrong.

Such love like this cannot be bought or earned. Seeds like this take root, grow and spread.

A Story to finish:-

A boy called Jimmy had run out of pocket money and desperately wanted some Marshmallows, but couldn't afford them, so he wrote a letter to his mother,

Dear Mam,

Please find my list of expenses below:-

For tidying my bedroom today 30p

For washing the dishes on Tuesday 20p

For behaving myself yesterday, when Granny came 10p

For doing my own packed lunch this morning 20p

For washing behind my ears 20p

Please leave the money in this envelope:-

She wrote back the following day,

Dear Jimmy,

Please find enclosed the pound you asked for, and also my expenses list for you;

For nursing you throughout your life whenever you were ill

NO CHARGE

For loving and forgiving you when you were naughty

NO CHARGE

For feeding and clothing you until now, and into the future

NO CHARGE

For standing by you whenever you were in trouble

NO CHARGE

For helping you each night to understand your homework

NO CHARGE… because I love you so very much…

Jesus loved us, enough to die for us on the cross, there was NO CHARGE, but the least we can do is love him and demonstrate in return.